Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2018 — No. 10: Young stars land in hot water over old tweets

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We’re a few short days away from 2019 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2018. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were more akin to tabloid drama. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

I suppose it was only a matter of time. Time enough for those ballplayers who were young, immature and idiotic in the early days of social media to grow up and into the sort of prominence that might inspire people to look back at their young, immature and idiotic social media posts and show them to the world. That time came for four players this past season.

The first player called on to answer for his old tweets was Brewers reliever Josh Hader. On the same night he gave up four hits and a three-run homer to put the National League in a big hole in the All-Star Game, someone dug up through Hader’s Twitter history and found some ugly, ugly stuff in there, circa 2011-12. Specifically, Hader was found to have used the n-word, liberally, usually while quoting rap lyrics. He said “I hate gay people.” He said some super misogynistic stuff about wanting a woman who will cook and clean for him, among other pretty vile things. There were multiple references to cocaine. He said “I’ll murder your family” to one person and made some total non-sequitur tweet simply saying “KKK.” You name a social media etiquette line that one can cross and Hader not only crossed it, but he totally and gleefully trampled over it.

Soon several others would join Hader in the “oh no, someone found my crappy old tweets!” club. In late July — as he had a no-hitter going against the Dodgers — someone found old tweets from Braves starter Sean Newcomb in which he used offensive language including racist and homophobic slurs. The next day Nationals infielder Trea Turner’s tweets from his college days — primarily involving homophobic slurs — were unearthed. In late August White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech‘s old tweets, rife with casual use of racial slurs, racial stereotypes and, of course, homophobia came to light.

What followed each reveal was pretty much the same. The deletion of said tweets. A cursory apology in which the player claimed “that’s not who I am” while neglecting to actually own up to the fact that that was, at the very least, who he was not so long ago. They then each got league-mandated sensitivity training and participation in diversity initiatives.

Despite how insufficient these apologies were, — all of these guys want credit for who they claim to be in their heart-of-hearts while being absolved of what they actually did — the baseball world, predictably and immediately, moved on. Hader even got a standing ovation from Brewers fans in his first home start back. Something tells me that if Hader were black and, rather than having some bad tweets, he took an unpopular political stance, he would not have been embraced so warmly by the crowd, but I suppose that’s a topic for another day.

In any event, by the time the playoffs came around the Twitter business was largely forgotten. Hader pitched his Brewers into the NLCS and it went mostly unmentioned. As far as I can tell, no assessment of the Braves,’ Nats’ or White Sox’ 2018 seasons or looks ahead to their 2019 seasons has given Newcomb’s, Turner’s or Kopech’s Twitter transgressions the slightest notice and, obviously, it’s not costing these guys any money or negatively impacting their baseball careers in any way. Contrary to what so many who are quick to defend guys like these claim, there were no P.C. lynch mobs or attacks from brigades of social justice warriors impeding their lives or livelihoods in the slightest way. They were all fended off, it seems, by a team-written “I’m sorry if I offended anyone, that’s not who I am” statement.

Whatever the case, one figures that this will be the end of this sort of mini-scandal. I mean, while it was perhaps understandable for Hader to be burned by something old and dumb he once tweeted since it was an unprecedented situation in baseball circles, it’s hard to get your brain around other players’ tweets coming to light. After all, if you’re a public figure like that and you see the sort of heat Hader’s moronic tweets bought him, wouldn’t you simply delete every tweet you ever made? God knows if I was the agent of young players or their general manager I’d tell them to do so. Maybe Newcomb, Turner and Kopech were slow to mash that delete button, but by now you figure everyone else has.

Then again, that takes a little bit of sense, and the sorts of guys who would spew racist and homophobic crap in a public forum already have a lack of that to begin with, right? Maybe a ballplayer who is caught saying racist stuff is being honest when they say “that’s not who I am,” but most of us retain a whole heck of a lot more of our younger selves than we care to admit. Perhaps that whole “I should delete my old tweets” thing has fallen through the cracks for a few players.

Rutschman has five hits in opener, Orioles outlast Red Sox 10-9

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BOSTON – The last time Adley Rutschman recalls feeling this level of emotion on a baseball field was playing in front of intimate, 5,000-seat crowds in college at Oregon State.

He trumped that experience at Fenway Park on Thursday in his first career opening day start.

“This blows that out of the water,” Rutschman said.

Rutschman became the first catcher in major league history with five hits in an opener, and the Baltimore Orioles survived a wild ninth inning to beat the Boston Red Sox 10-9.

“To have that close game in the ninth inning and the crowd get so loud. You kind of sit there and say, ‘This is pretty cool,’” said Rutschman, the top overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Rutschman – who debuted for the Orioles last May and quickly became indispensable to the young, resurgent club – homered in his first at-bat and finished 5-for-5 with a career-best four RBIs and a walk on a chilly day at Fenway Park, with a temperature of 38 degrees at first pitch.

Ramon Urias hit a two-run homer for Baltimore, which finished with 15 hits, nine walks and five stolen bases.

Kyle Gibson (1-0) allowed four runs and six hits over five-plus innings to earn his first opening-day victory since his 2021 All-Star season with Texas. Gibson gave up an RBI groundout in the first inning before retiring nine straight Red Sox hitters.

The Orioles nearly gave the game away in the ninth.

With Baltimore leading 10-7, closer Félix Bautista walked pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia. Alex Verdugo followed with a single and advanced to second on an error by center fielder Cedric Mullins.

Rafael Devers struck out. Justin Turner then reached on an infield single to third when Urias’ throw was wide, scoring Tapia. Masataka Yoshida grounded to shortstop Jorge Mateo, who stepped on second for the force but threw wildly to first, allowing Verdugo to score.

Bautista struck out Adam Duvall on three pitches to end it and earn the save.

The Orioles scored four runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to take an 8-2 lead. Baltimore led 10-4 before Bryan Baker allowed three runs in the eighth to give the Red Sox some hope.

The eighth could have been even better for the Red Sox had Devers, who led off the inning, not become the first player in major league history to strike out on a pitch clock violation. Devers was looking down and kicking debris off his cleats when umpire Lance Barksdale signaled a violation that resulted in strike three.

“There’s no excuse,” said Alex Cora, who dropped to 0-5 in opening-day games as Boston’s manager. “They know the rules.”

Boston offseason addition and two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (0-1) struggled in his Fenway debut, surrendering five runs on six hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.

“Less than ideal,” Kluber said. “Didn’t turn out the way I would have hoped for.”


Red Sox: Christian Arroyo stayed in the game after taking an inadvertent cleat to the side of his head in the second inning. Arroyo was applying a tag to Rutschman at second base as he attempted to stretch out a single. Rutschman’s leg flipped over as he slid awkwardly. … LHP James Paxton was placed on the 15-day inured list (retroactive to March 27) with a strained right hamstring.


Rutschman, one of six Baltimore players making his first opening-day appearance, became the youngest Oriole to homer in his first opening-day at-bat since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1984.


The Orioles took advantage of MLB’s bigger bases – going from 15- to 18-inch squares – that are being used for the first time this season. Baltimore hadn’t stolen five bases in a game since last June 24 against the White Sox. Mullins and Jorge Mateo swiped two bags apiece, and Adam Frazier got a huge jump on his steal against reliever Ryan Brasier. There was nothing Boston catcher Reese McGuire could do to stop them and on the majority of Baltimore’s steals, he didn’t bother to throw.


Right-hander Kaleb Ort and Tapia earned Boston’s final two roster spots to open the season. Tapia got the nod over Jarren Duran, who was sent down to Triple-A Worcester. Ort pitched a scoreless sixth with one strikeout Thursday.


Orioles: RHP Dean Kremer will make is sixth career start against Boston when the three-game series resumes on Saturday. In 11 road starts last season, he went 5-3 with a 3.63 ERA.

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale, who has pitched in only 11 games over the past three years due to injuries, is set to begin his seventh season in Boston.